- Investors looking to US jobs report for Fed rate cues
- Equities in Japan, South Korea and Australia decline
Stocks edged lower in Asia after US equities struggled for direction, with traders awaiting a jobs report later Friday for clues on the Federal Reserve’s next policy steps.
Shares declined in Japan, South Korea and Australia. Futures for Hong Kong indicated gains. Contracts for the S&P 500 slid after the index edged lower during the US session. The gauge earlier this week rallied on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s signals of a downshift in the pace of hikes.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index steadied after sinking to its lowest since June. The yen fluctuated after a fourth straight daily advance.
Australian and New Zealand government bond yields slid, following the lead from Treasuries on Thursday, when their rally gathered steam amid a pullback in expectations for Fed tightening. The 10-year US benchmark hovered around 3.52% during Asian trading.
Data showing American manufacturing contracted in November for the first time since May 2020 added to concern that Fed hikes will raise the odds of a recession.
The remarkably resilient US jobs market is beginning to cool, but Friday’s employment report may fall far short of the turning point Fed officials are seeking in their battle to beat back inflation. There are signs labor demand is ebbing, but a bigger slowdown is needed to bring that demand more in line with labor supply in order to contain wage growth.
Elsewhere, oil fluctuated after four days of gains with China further easing Covid restrictions and the US considering a pause in sales from its strategic reserves. Gold steadied.